By Natalie Notaro
Imagine you go into the grocery store without a mask. You think to yourself that you are young and healthy, and that wearing a mask is a nuisance. While in line to check out, the stranger in front of you has diabetes, and you are exposing them to germs you may be unaware of. You never know the full story of the people around you or the stories of their family members, so it is crucial to wear a mask.
Over the summer, I had a job working at a mall. Customers were not permitted to enter the store unless they were wearing a form of a protective face covering (a mask, a shield, etc). During my time at the register, I experienced multiple transactions in which clients would take down their masks to talk or even sneeze. This defeats the purpose of wearing a mask at all, and I’ve had many difficult conversations with customers who were ignorant, rude and disrespectful to the health of those around them.
As the United States approaches the eighth month of the global pandemic, we as a society have been attempting to adjust to the “new normal,” a dreaded phrase that has involved a shift to online learning, virtual work and a drastic increase in health and safety precautions.
The encouragement to wear a mask and practice social distancing is not asking too much of individuals. We are in the midst of a hazardous and deadly pandemic, from which many people are at high risk. Individuals who suffer from asthma, diabetes, heart issues, the elderly and any underlying health condition can produce a higher risk than others.
When considering the amount of people who could be seriously affected if they were to contract Covid-19, why would you not wear a mask in a public setting? There are news stories, articles, and even Tik Toks exposing inconsiderate (and frankly ignorant) people who refuse to wear masks. By not wearing a mask, not only are you putting yourself at risk, but also the innocent people around you who are doing their part to keep others safe.
People may refuse to wear a mask for a variety of reasons. One of the most aggravating excuses is that “Covid-19 is a hoax” or “Covid-19 has the same severity as the flu.” For some, the latter may be true. But for those who are immunocompromised, it can be deadly. The virus has a higher rate of transmission than the flu along with a higher mortality rate.
The next time you go to the mall or the grocery store (or anywhere else for that matter), be respectful to those around you and wear your mask. You may seem fine, but the people around you or their family members could have underlying health problems that are not visible to the naked eye.